The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In Which I Commit Comic Book Fan Heresy

I hate Superman.

Really, I hate him. I think he is the dullest, most vanilla, most white-bread character ever. So, for the rest of this blog entry, I shall refer to him as Captain Wonderbread.

I recently said to a friend of mine that it is very hard to pull off a character who is pure evil and still make them interesting. It is even harder to do that with a character who is pure good. Captain Wonderbread is a character who is pure good. He always does the right thing, and never has any doubts or uncertainties. I know he's an alien, but he should still be "human" and he is not. Captain Wonderbread is even more "perfect" than Jesus Christ.

Captain Wonderbread is too powerful. Too invulnerable. Only a special, rare green rock can hurt him. He is strong enough to move planets, he is fast enough to fly at the speed of light. There isn't anything he can't do. Nothing can stop him.

I like my heroes to have character flaws. I like my heroes to take their lives into their own hands when they go out to help others. Captain Wonderbread has and does neither of these things. The most suspense you get out of a Captain Wonderbread story, is "will he get to Lois in time to save her life" and in the Richard Donner movie, when he doesn't, it doesn't matter because he turns back the Earth's rotation to turn back time and saves her anyway.

If a hero is only as good as his villains, then Captain Wonderbread is still a weak character. I've mentioned my dislike for Lex Luthor in previous posts. He's another character I loathe. And while I did like the Bruce Timm/Alan Burnett Superman animated series, it didn't get good until they stole Darkseid (who is not even a Captain Wonderbread villain) and inserted him into the rogues' gallery for their show.

Now, I hear they are making Captain Wonderbread a bit of an asshole in the DC reboot they're doing. Apparently, he'll only care about his Kryptonian heritage and won't care at all about Earth. You know what? GOOD! That gives him some place to start and some place to take him. It gives him an opportunity for real character development. I don't intend to read it, but it sounds interesting. It gives the character layers, which can only be a good thing.

And now, bring on the disagreements! ;)


  1. You seem to be talking about the most common interpretation of Captain Wonde...I mean, Superman here. Let's face it; there have been so many Superman stories and versions over the years that I'm sure a good few of them do have Superman doing wrong things, having doubts and uncertainties, pr even character flaws. It just doesn't happen enough.

    On the power thing...yeah, I'm pretty much thankful that he even HAS a weakness. That's how overpowered he's been, even more so in the early days.

    I don't recall you saying you "loathed" Luthor; only that you didn't admire him as a villain because he was like "a poor man's Xanatos." (Which I'd have to disagree on you with. If he were less of the irrational, tempermental psychopath that he is, he'd be MORE of a Xanatos clone. And I like my villains with flaws too.) I agree that the whole business with Darkseid really made the animated series good, though.

    Are you talking about the rebooted Edward Cullen-esque Superman in your last post? Making him a dick can either work out or not. If it works for character development then it's good but if he's TOO much of an ass, it or not, Superman is a good, upstanding, idealistic hero and he should never be taken TOO far away from his roots just to make him more appealing to readers who like flawed heroes better.

  2. "disagree on you with."

    How the Hell did I make that typo?

  3. Superman does have other flaws as well. In one arc the villain Dominus used his mental abilities to amplify Superman's fear of failing the people of earth, causing superman to believe that the only way to protect the people was to enslave them. In essence all Dominus was amplify a fear that was already there. He also lacks the ability to temper his compassion with resolve. And due to his loneliness he's rather carless when it comes to krypton. Darkseid at one point brainwashed supergirl into being a member of his honor guard, and it wasn't until Superman was able to put aside the family connection that he was able to fight back.

    In the animated series, his weaknesses are far more pronounced (His arrogance and jealousy almost led to the joker killing him, his desperation over Kara's situation caused him to lash out at Hamilton). They make him a good guy but also show his more human side.

    Oh have you played injustice gods among us? Basically, the entire premise is superman going evil. And he's fucking scary.

    There are other things that can hurt him as well (red sunlight makes him as flabby and weak as the average mortal, magic for some reason also hurts him). In The Batman, he was kind of an arrogant prick (he mellows out, but only after his arrogance costs him dearly by allowing Luthor to brainwash him)


  4. The entire point is that it is possible to make an adaptation where he is a genuinely compelling character, while still keeping him as a good guy. Show that he has human weaknesses (like how his jealousy of batman dating lois caused him to underestimate the joker (nearly getting him killed), or how he was kind of a dick to conner in young justice). He's not an unsalvagable character; Bruce Timm actually made him likable.

    1. You're not going to change my mind.